News Release

25 Years of Bombing Iraq

baghdad-bombingAP is reporting: “Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group’s relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.”

DAHLIA WASFI, dahliaswasfi at yahoo.com, @liberatethis
Wasfi is an Iraqi-American justice activist who has written and spoken extensively on U.S. policy in the region. She is currently writing a book on Iraq and her pieces include: “Battling ISIS: Iran-Iraq War Redux.”

She said today: “The hawkish Center for Strategic & International Studies boasts that ‘January 17 … marks an unrecognized milestone. The United States has been bombing that country almost continuously for a quarter of a century.’ In fact, the U.S. bombings over the years were often based on false or dubious rationales, most obviously the 2003 invasion under the pretext of ridding Iraq of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The initial 1991 attack obliterated the infrastructure of Iraq, there were bombings of Iraq throughout the 1990s, including Operation Desert Fox. The illegal U.S. invasion and occupation installed de facto puppet Iraqi regimes and orchestrated the bloody sectarian strife that plagues Iraq today. And the bombing raids continue, killing countless innocent Iraqis in their own country.”

CNN reports: “Nearly 19,000 civilians were killed in Iraq between January 2014 and October 2015 — a toll the United Nations calls ‘staggering’ in a new report [PDF].” Wasfi said today, “The figure of 19,000 is the number of dead from armed conflict. Previous studies like the landmark Lancet studies estimate ‘excess deaths’ due to violence as well as lack of water, food, shelter, medicine, etc. This study notes, ‘In addition, the number of civilians who have died from the secondary effects of armed conflict and violence — such as lack of access to basic food, water or medical care — is unknown.’ So the number of dead is higher than 19,000 for this period; we don’t know how much higher.” A 2006 Lancet study estimated over 650,000 excess deaths from the 2003 invasion.

Iraq was under economic sanctions from 1990 until after the 2003 invasion. In 1998, Denis Halliday, who had just resigned as the head of the UN “oil-for-food” program, gave a speech on Capitol Hill, citing a “conservative estimate” of “child mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand per month.” See: accuracy.org/iraq. Later in 1998, Halliday warned that the long-term U.S. policies and social strains of bombings and sanctions threatened the rise of a “Taliban-type” movement — in effect foreseeing the rise of ISIS. See video and transcript.

RAED JARRAR, rjarrar at afsc.org, @raedjarrar
Jarrar is the government relations manager with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization. His colleagues recently stated in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed: “Saturday marked 25 years since the 1991 launch of Operation Desert Storm with bombing attacks against Baghdad and other cities in Iraq. U.S. ground troops entered the country by late February and a cease-fire agreement was signed in March. A quarter century later, Iraq is still spiraling down, the United States is still bombing, and a devastating war rages in Syria, further destabilizing the region.”

The group also recently released a statement about the start of the 1991 bombing: “In just over a month, thousands of civilians, including families hiding in bomb shelters, had been killed as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi troops, including those withdrawing from Kuwait. It was a massive bombing campaign. Tremendous damage had been inflicted on homes, businesses, and infrastructure. All while Iraq was dealing with harsh, painful economic sanctions. A UN report concluded that the impact of the war had reduced Iraq to a ‘pre-industrial age.’

“The Gulf War sunk the hopes of many of us who thought that the end of the Cold War, signaled by the fall of the Berlin Wall, would lead to a new era where real peace could be possible. But once the Iraq war started, those who opposed the war were also committed to offering assistance to the victims, bringing a swift end to the fighting, and looking over the horizon to address root causes that could lead to future conflict.”